“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote,
and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.”
It's Monday 29th September. I got back from Croatia and BiH yesterday. I'm sat on a train to Manchester in order to see Michael Palin's show 'Travel to Work' today. Now seems like a good time to reflect why people travel! Or rather why I travel? Why can't I stay in one place for long?
I've realised that there is no simple reason really, but at the heart of it is a curious and passionate mind. A insatiable desire for knowledge. To see and learn about the world. To experience it first hand for myself. I appreciate and am in awe of everything.
There's also the element of adventure. Sitting in an office...going to the pub with friends...routine. It's my idea of hell. Boredom and a lack of challenges in life are the enemy of a curious mind! You never know what might happen when you travel. Plus being in another country can turn something as simple as buying a chocolate bar or catching a bus into a unique and exciting experience. When you travel the world you can climb mountains, go kayaking in the sea, learn a traditional Japanese dance! Anything you can think of doing, it's all there, just waiting for you to discover it.
Also when you've grown up in Kendal and spent three years living in Manchester, it's nice to see the sun and feel its warmth on your skin!
In our overly complicated lives, travel provides peace. Life is simplified. Unhurried. All you have to do is find something to eat, find somewhere to sleep and work out where to withdraw or exchange money! It makes you focus your attention on what's important in life.
Once the above three things have been sorted, you can do whatever you want, whenever you feel like. You are free from the schedules and demands of daily life. It's so liberating. You have full control and full independence.
This life is all we have. We don't know when it will end for us. I'm always aware of the fact that my mum died at 44, so I want to know that when it's my time to go I've seen and experienced as much as I can.
I'd be lying if I only mentioned the good stuff. I know I travel to escape sometimes too. So I can run and hide from the pain of mum's suicide and the deaths of all my grandparents. To fill the emptiness and longing that being involuntary single for a long time brings.
A lot of traveling is not where you go or what you see, but who you encounter along the way. When you travel you finally meet other people like you, the ones who spend their lives saving and working to travel too. Although stays in hostels can be ruined by annoying individuals (and snorers!), lifelong friendships can be found. Most of the time though you just sit and talk with the most amazing, interesting people from all races, religions and professions. So many different life experiences. You learn so much. Hear so many different views and opinions. So many new ways of looking at the world. You rarely remember peoples' names (you meet too many), but you are always affected by their life stories.
Travel moves you. Inspires you. Shatters your prejudices. Reminds you just how little you know. It opens your mind and makes you a better person. As an example, when you've spent all day listening to someone talk about their experiences of war, when they've shown you the bombed out buildings of their own town, there's no way you can return home and live the same life you did before. You know you have to try and do more good in the world. Help others who aren't as privileged as you. Fight injustice. Reduce inequality.
Isn't it odd that when you make lists like these you often forget to include the following: FUN! Travelling is so much fun. And there's so much fear and laughter and excitement and fatigue. Nothing else makes me feel more alive. That's why like Michael, I will be happily infected with the travel bug until the end of my life.